Leadership Simplified: Doug Van Dyke

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3 Ways Good Leaders Develop Other Leaders

Volume: November 2013

By Doug Van Dyke, Leadership Simplified, www.leadershipsimplified.com

 

Sarah is a seasoned leader with a history of proven results. She also creates followership wherever she goes. Last month she inherited a team filled with bright, new leaders. Her initial actions included meeting with her key direct reports and creating working agreements (an integrity map that drills down on workplace expectations). This exercise gave her an opportunity to assess the skills and abilities of her team, as well as to gain a sense of individual developmental needs. Next, Sarah carefully realigned the structure of her organization in order to place the right people in the right positions. Today, she is tempted to unleash all of the team’s focus on core deliverables. However, Sarah knows from experience that better medium-term results will be achieved if she spends some time coaching and developing her team prior to an all-out delivery effort. Sarah also knows that once she has helped her new leaders increase their skills they will perform at their highest level possible. In addition, Sarah will be able to delegate more if her direct reports possess better skills. Effective delegation will grow her people further, as well as free up time so that she can complete higher and more strategic goals.

 

After assessing her team, Sarah decides she will focus on three key development areas: 

  1. Time Management - From a productivity standpoint, Sarah wants to help her team effectively employ time management techniques such as day planning and action planning. She will also share tips with them regarding fine tuning their delegation skills. Lastly, she will help them learn about six different types of procrastination and how they can overcome delays in productivity by setting meaningful project milestones.   

 

  1. Interpersonal Communication – Sarah views proficiency in this area as mission critical to the success of her direct reports. Effective interpersonal communication will allow her leaders to help team members feel valued, reduce errors, and diffuse difficult situations. Plus, as she practices what she preaches, it will give Sarah a great chance to lead by example.

 

The first communication area in which Sarah will challenge her leaders is to ask good open-ended questions. For example, when making an inquiry rather than asking “What happened?” Sarah will expect her team leads to consider saying “Please tell me more about that?” while using an inquisitive tone of voice. The latter question tends to elicit more information and will come across more conversational. Sarah will also help her direct reports with listening for excellence. Listening is an art and Sarah will share tips with her team such as: Give the person who is speaking your full attention; maintain nice eye contact; and do not engage in distractions such as checking your cell phone.

 

Sarah will also coach her team on paraphrasing, the big kahuna of interpersonal communication. She believes that the ability to summarize what another person said is a mission critical skill for top-flight professionals. She has helped others to master this skill and their careers soared as a result.

 

  1. Email – Sarah acknowledges that email has become a centerpiece in the work world for most leaders. She recently read a study that stated professionals spend as much as 50% of their work time on email. As such, Sarah wants to make certain that her team leads handle email properly. She has a four-step plan that she hopes to implement.
      1. Minimize the Madness - In order to help minimize the bazillion emails that her team receives, Sarah is committing to sending only pertinent email. She plans to lead by example in order to influence her workplace culture’s email usage. When she does send email, Sarah will make certain that it is succinct and well-written.
      2. Rip the Reply-All – Sarah will avoid using the reply-all button at all costs – and encourage others do so as well. She has determined that reply-all is evil, and that its overuse can hurt a leader’s credibility by appearing more interested in “CYA” as opposed to being decisive and using targeted communication. 
      3. Strive for Succinctness - Sarah also plans on implementing a five sentence rule on the length of conversational emails.
      4. Bottom Out the Back and Forth - Lastly, Sarah hopes that her team will embrace a four iteration rule in an attempt to reduce the numbers of emails that fly back-and-forth between team members. If her team agrees, after four iterations a new email chain would need to be started and it would have to summarize the key points of the initial email chain.      

     

    Bottom Line: Leaders are challenged with a bevy of deliverables. Even the best leaders cannot achieve all the results that they desire. They need an agile, well-trained, skilled team. In order to achieve a healthy team dynamic, it is up to leaders to properly coach and develop their direct reports. It takes the investment of time to help people grow their skills, however, it is a worthy endeavor that delivers healthy returns. Developing team members also acts as a force multiplier, as skilled team members are better positioned to coach and grow their direct reports.

     

    Until next time leaders, be well.    

     

     

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    Please do so, as long as you do not alter the content or embedded links. Also, please include the following information: Doug Van Dyke is a Tampa Bay based leadership and collaboration consultant, executive coach, and strategic planner. To learn more about leadership development programs, coaching and consulting services, visit www.leadershipsimplified.com.

    © 2013 Leadership Simplified. All rights reserved.






 
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